As a non-profit organization advancing Wheat Ridge as a vibrant and sustainable community, many items in public policy directly impact Localworks’ mission. As a service to our members and also available to the public on our website, we ask candidates about their qualifications and positions on public policy. The candidates were emailed the questions on September 13 with a deadline of September 24. Please note, not all candidates responded. We’ve compiled the information by office up for election and published answers exactly as we received them. This questionnaire gives candidates some more room to express themselves and their ideas. Localworks does not make any endorsements.

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Council District I
David Kueter

Council District II
Rachel Hultin

Council District III
Ihor Figlus
Korey Stites

Council District IV
Christopher Bird
Larry Mathews
Val Nosler Beck

City Clerk
James “Steve” Kirkpatrick

City Treasurer
Christopher Miller

Council District I

David Kueter

1. Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?  Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of your district.

My career as an attorney has given me the experience to process and engage in complex policy discussions, as shown in my time as a founding member of the Wheat Ridge Active Transportation Advisory Team (ATATs), serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and for the past eight months as a Council representative for District I.  On Council, I have demonstrated my thoughtful approach to policy decisions, and that I will listen to all voices as part of that process.

Recent surveys have shown that, overall, Wheat Ridge residents have positive views of the City as a place to live, and are supportive of how the City has progressed over the past five years.  Walking District I and talking to constituents confirms these results – people like living in Wheat Ridge, and generally have good feelings about the direction the City is headed.  Returning me to Council will allow us to continue to move forward as a community, without losing track of who we are and where we have been.

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge over the next four years, and how would you propose to address it?

I believe many of the political battles that have occurred recently in the City can be traced to failures in communication.  This starts at the top in government: City Council needs to do a better job of making information available to the people who will be affected, being transparent as to the actual effects of governmental decisions, and giving people avenues to make their opinions heard.  There are small steps that can be taken, such as ensuring information on the City website is correct and current and finding new ways to provide notifications to interested residents.  For the bigger picture, we need to consider other methods for citizen input to ensure that every citizen has the opportunity to be heard on the issues that affect them.  Finally, Council needs to set an example, and show that we can have legitimate disagreements regarding policy and still treat each other with civility and respect.

3. How is the city funded?

As described in the City’s proposed 2020 Budget (available online and a surprisingly riveting read), sales and use taxes are expected to account for around 70% of the City’s revenues in the coming year.  As noted by the City Manager when he presented the proposed budget to Council earlier this month, I think people would be surprised at how small some sources of revenue are relative to the overall budget.  Two examples are property taxes, which make up only 2% of the projected budget, and fines, which are expected to be less than 1% of total revenues.

4. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how to maintain our community’s character while growing with the rest of the metro area. How do you think we best do this? Do you believe that one takes precedence over the other?

The NRS update provided strong recommendations on increasing neighborhood involvement on issues regarding growth and development.  I am committed to the implementation of the NRS report concerning neighborhood involvement and development of our primary corridors, and look forward to the City bringing on new staff members to aid in this effort.  Ultimately, I don’t think of this as a zero-sum issue, and believe that growth can occur without sacrificing the things that make Wheat Ridge unique.

5. What are your top two policy goals, why, and how will you work to address them?

Affordable housing.  Over the past few years, the metro area has seen one of the largest spikes in housing costs in the country, and Wheat Ridge is not immune.  We need to find ways for the City to promote the development of affordable housing and preserve what affordability already exists.  I have requested that a discussion of methods to support affordable housing be added to a future Council study session, and that City staff brief Council on the strategies that may be available to promote affordability.  It is my plan to continue those discussions, and hopefully turn the discussions into concrete policy options that we can begin implementing to address this issue.

Safe streets.  We owe it to every member of our community to provide safe means of transit in and around our city, whether walking, bicycling, driving, using transit or other means.  All of us, from Council members to staff to the general public, need to do everything we can to provide for the safety of our streets and throughways.  I intend to continue my demonstrated support of transit, bike lanes, sidewalks along our busier streets, and crosswalks and traffic signals where needed.  Specifically, I want to make sure that City projects and future developments moving forward are consistent with the City’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan.

6. Do you have a personal or professional background in conflict resolution? Give an example of a time you’ve used these skills.

I am a lawyer in my day job, with over 25 years of experience as a transactional and litigation attorney.  The essence of my job is conflict resolution, whether that is settling court cases prior to trial or negotiating agreements and contracts.  I have exhibited these skills during my time on City Council, which is a reason I have the endorsement of 5 out of the 7 sitting councilmembers, including members with whom I have disagreed on policy matters.

7. How will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole?

As a general matter, I don’t think that the needs of District I conflict with the City as a whole: hopefully, proposals which benefit the City generally will be good for the residents of District I and vice versa.  If not, we need to reexamine the underlying proposal to determine whether there is any way to provide the suggested benefit without disproportionately impacting a single district.  Where a conflict between interests is unavoidable, the key is balance.  It is every Council member’s responsibility on a case-by-case basis to weigh the benefits and impacts to the City overall versus the benefits and impacts to the local community.

8. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to represent District I on City Council for these past eight months.  I agree with the majority of survey respondents, both in the excellent quality of life we enjoy now, and in the positive direction the City is headed.  In District I, I am the candidate best positioned to build on our accomplishments to date, and to continue moving forward.

Council District II

Rachel Hultin

1. Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?  Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of your district.

I am running to serve District 2 on City Council because I think Wheat Ridge is wonderful. I’m excited about where our city is today and I’m even more excited about what’s next. I have the skills, the experience, the insight, and the proven history of community leadership to represent District 2. As a 4th generation Colorado native, I have deep roots. But it wasn’t until I moved to Wheat Ridge in 2012 that I experienced the call to step up and serve my community.

My professional background gives me the right skills and experience to tackle our city’s biggest challenges and to create bigger opportunities.  I am the founder and principal of Yes Plan Do!, a community engagement firm focused on inspired input for impactful outcomes. My previous work experience includes transportation, nonprofit work, healthy community programming, and helping hundreds of people find the right community to buy a home.

In 2014, I started Wheaties Academy, a grassroots leadership program of Localworks which provided community members with the inspiration and skills to turn ideas into action from the ground up. Wheaties Academy has 46 graduates from three cohorts, many of whom serve on boards, commissions and even city council. I also started Pints & Policy to connect people with valuable information about local civics so people could be more involved. I’ve served on the Board of Localworks and on the Partners in Progress committee.

I am a founding officer of the Wheat Ridge Active Transportation Advisory. We advocate to improve safe access to walking, biking and transit for all residents in Wheat Ridge. I have been awarded the Wheat Ridge City Council Partner of the Year Award three times for three different areas of involvement in our city.

The most valuable insight I will bring to council comes from co-chairing for the recent update to the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy. Along with 25 other Steering Committee members, I spent the last year engaging our entire community in a dialogue to answer the question: What does Wheat Ridge need to get right to be the best version of itself over the next 10 years? Over the course of 11 months we participated in over 30 meetings, solicited over 1500 points of community input. Co-chairing the NRS allowed me to learn more about our city and what our neighbors care about so I can be a champion for our quiet neighborhoods and for our vibrant corridors.

I’ve worked hard to learn more about our city’s heritage so I can continue to work hard to be a steward of its future. Thank you for considering me to serve as your next City Council representative.

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge over the next four years, and how would you propose to address it?

Like our neighboring cities, Wheat Ridge is currently grappling with regional growth pressures. Our location is attractive for people who enjoy the small town feel with easy access to the mountains, downtown and the many amenities in our own city. It’s a point in time when cities and their citizens are increasingly asked to take a side: are you pro-growth or anti-growth? Picking either side will keep Wheat Ridge from being able to expect people to bring us their best ideas so we can be selective about what best suits our needs.

I believe we need to support authentic growth. Investments in our city should also be investments for our citizens. The recently adopted Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy is provides an effective road map to provide better tools for neighbors and neighborhoods to evaluate the merits of proposed projects earlier in the process. In fact, the NRS lays the foundations for neighborhoods to identify assets, needs and concerns ahead of proposals, creating a more predictable environment for everyone.

While increasing citizen input and engagement for proposed developments will promote better outcomes, the input process is only as good as the communication process. I am committed to hosting monthly coffees and instituting proactive constituent communications to make sure District 2 folks know what is happening early and often. Additionally, I would like to see City Council re-evaluate notification procedures including expanding notification distances to include more people in early outreach and input.

Finding a balance to continue to attract quality development on our corridors while preserving our neighbors is not going to be easy but it can be done with communication and neighborhood involvement.

3. How is the city funded?

Sales tax revenue accounts for 55% of our City’s General Fund. About 14% comes from Use Tax and the remaining 30% is a combination of fees, fines, interest and other taxes. Most people are surprised to learn that only 2% of our budget comes from property tax. In fact, of every dollar you spend on property taxes, only $0.03 goes to the City of Wheat Ridge.

There are special funds and programs which receive funding from other sources. The Capital Improvement Program (which goes to repaving roads and other infrastructure projects) is funded by the lodgers taxes, grants and general fund transfers. The Crime Prevention/Code Enforcement Fund is almost entirely funded by Lodger’s Tax revenue. The Open Space Fund is funded by the county’s Open Space Tax, County grants and Developer Fees and interest. Lastly, the Conservation Trust is funded revenue from the Colorado Lottery.

The bottom line is: our city is heavily dependent on sales tax. Which is why attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses is incredibly important. Vacant and under-utilized commercial space negatively impacts the visual appeal of the corridors but fails to contribute to the financial success of our city.

Proper licensing and taxing of short term rentals will contribute to additional Lodger’s Tax funding which is why I support Council addressing common sense policies for short term rentals. And, while newly constructed townhomes and rentals don’t add much via property tax, they do bring additional expendable income to our city. This support both our sales tax revenue and helps keep our great local businesses… in business.

4. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how to maintain our community’s character while growing with the rest of the metro area. How do you think we best do this? Do you believe that one takes precedence over the other?

I really appreciate this question because I believe it is at the heart of what makes Wheat Ridge unique. We can absolutely maintain our community’s character while also appropriately and authentically respond to growth and development proposals but only if we commit to doing so. One does not need to take precedence over another.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy provides a clear and effective roadmap to guide city leadership and citizens on how to thoughtfully “thread the needle” on authentic growth. By implementing the NRS recommendation to build neighborhood capacity to guide neighborhood change. Let neighbors identify what is unique to their neighborhood, what they would like to retain and what type of investments they would like to see happen. This information can help guide proposals and city resources.

Many current city policies and guiding documents are clear about what changes and new investments we’d like to see happen in Wheat Ridge but these documents are often silent when it comes to what we want to preserve. I’ve definitely learned that in Wheat Ridge, we value air, land, water, trees, open space and historic buildings. Improving our policies to preserve these attributes will help guide best practices for reinvestment in the community.

Lastly, I will continue to cultivate “ambient engagement” to keep people informed and connect them with opportunities to engage. This way, the bigger civic discussions are cushioned by shared experience with many smaller discussions.

5. What are your top two policy goals, why, and how will you work to address them?

As an elected official, my top policy goals are to implement the recently adopted Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy [NRS] and to proactively address concerns about traffic.

The NRS has three primary recommendations:

  1. Build Resident Capacity to Manage Neighborhood Change. This asked the city to increase its capacity to engage with people at the neighborhood level. By hiring Neighborhood Specialists to understand the unique needs and wants for each neighborhood, those can be addressed by the city and through reinvestment.
  2. Connect the Community by Investing in Primary Corridors. There is a tremendous need for more vibrant primary corridors. The NRS process prioritized finishing 38th Avenue, continuing Wadsworth Blvd reconstruction and starting to plan 44th Avenue.
  3. Facilitate Investment Through Customer Service. Wheat Ridge is ripe with opportunities to rehab existing structures, both residential and commercial. Improving the customer experience will encourage more reinvestment and updating rather than letting outdated buildings fall into disrepair.

I will support the implementation by fully funding the staffing recommendations for Neighborhood Specialist and Customer Service and by supporting corridor planning and funding. And, of course, engaging my constituents in the process.

As I’ve been walking District 2 and talking to neighbors this year and when I walked the District 2 in 2017, the top concern is traffic. People are frustrated with the increased congestion on our primary corridors, they are alarmed by the speeding and lack of compliance with stop signs on their neighborhood streets. I will work with council, residents and city staff to develop a Citywide Traffic Management program including updating our current street classification, adopting a Neighborly Streets Program to address speeding and cut-through traffic on our neighborhood streets. This will include enforcement in school zones and promoting a culture of respecting our local streets.

6. Do you have a personal or professional background in conflict resolution? Give an example of a time you’ve used these skills.

Aside from surviving growing up in a household with a Republican father and Democrat mother, I have extensive experience in consensus building, negotiating and inclusive best practices. I’ve completed 40 hours of training in Community Engagement Strategies, I’m a Certified Negotiation Expert, and my professional work supporting community planning and programming often includes soliciting input from diverse stakeholders. All of these skills start with listening.

After Wheat Ridge Ballot Measure 2B to fund the community-informed plan for 38th Avenue was defeated in 2014, I co-organized and facilitated “Regular Citizens for Main Street”. The purpose was to bring people on both sides of the issue together and build consensus on how to move forward. Over the course of two months, we met four times including a final meeting with a handful of elected officials. At each meeting we crafted consensus statements focusing on areas of agreement rather than what divided us. We created a document with 9 outcomes signed by 35 community members representing both sides of 2B. The outcomes were presented at City Council by a dozen people who had participated.

These outcomes included: Reasons we care about 38th Avenue and how we believe it will contribute to our community; Important qualities; Concerns; Areas of compromise; and Pledges to support the process. The final Regular Citizens for Main Street pledge is at the core of community leadership and consensus building. It’s worth sharing here as a reminder of how we can work together to keep Wheat Ridge wonderful.

Regular Citizens for Main Street Outcome #9: We pledge to continue moving forward by finding ways to agree to disagree rather getting stuck on any one aspect of the process. We can achieve this by:

  1. Recognizing any public process inherently includes a full range of interests, opinions and ideas.
  2. As an individual, it’s helpful to contribute your preferences and ideas.
  3. As a leader supporting the process, it’s important to be open to the ideas of others and embrace compromises that still support your values of why 38th Avenue Main Street will benefit our community.

7. How will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole?

I am committed to robust engagement with District 2 residents so they are informed about issues and educated about civic processes. And so I can hear their input and answer their questions. This will include monthly district meetings and proactive communications. Improved communication will allow me to better represent the district on Council.

City council must also take action to ensure the city is headed in the right direction. I don’t think the needs of the district are in direct conflict or competition with the needs of the city very often. But, when that happens, I will be sure to keep people informed and listen to their concerns so I can exercise collective wisdom when I vote.

8. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

Actually, I want to know more about them! As the District 2 City Council Member, I will host monthly coffees to discuss current events in the city but it’s also a chance to get to know one another better. I’m a huge fan of community art, gardening, dogs, local businesses; I imagine the district get togethers will often involve side conversations where we will get to know one another better.

I truly love this community and most of that is squarely tied to all the amazing people I’ve met since I moved to Wheat Ridge. It’s a special and occasionally quirky place and I’m dedicated to keep it just so.

Council District III

Ihor Figlus

1. Why are you the best candidate to represent your district? Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of your district.

I am asking for your vote as the candidate to represent District 3

I love living in Wheat Ridge. When my parents moved here in 1972, we came for the open spaces, and fell in love with the atmosphere, the people and quality of life. We saw how committed its citizens were to this community and how passionate they were about the maintaining the character of their neighborhoods and the City. These values have remained constant. Although I have lived in other cities and countries, Wheat Ridge has always been and will continue to be my home.

I have a degree in Economics from the University of Colorado and a Certificate of Business Administration from the Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago. I have experience in economics, finance, financial analysis, management consulting, product development, small business development, business association leadership and government relations. In 1992, I assisted in setting up the Embassy of the United States of America in a newly independent Ukraine. I was the Executive Director of a USAID program, focused on small business development in a former Soviet environment. I was a co-organizer of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine and served as Executive Director and then President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for that organization for a number of years. I am currently President of the Board of Directors of the Federal Boulevard Corridor Improvement Partnership, a registered neighborhood association which brings together numerous community and business interests in the development of a major corridor in Denver, Colorado. I have worked for large corporations and in small business. My experience enables me to apply a uniquely broad perspective and approach to the variety of issues we, as a community, face today.

What Wheat Ridge needs are critical thinkers who actively seek out citizen input and consensus before making decisions that will affect citizens and their families for generations to come. Each issue that comes before City Council has unique factors which should be considered with an open mind and acted on after careful research and citizen input.

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge over the next four years, and how would you propose to address it?

The most important issue facing Wheat Ridge is to not only maintain its unique, attractive character, but to manage any development in a way that enhances the experience of Wheat Ridge residents and visitors. I will to work with the citizens of my district to evaluate and choose the best options for the future of our city.

3. How is the city funded?

The city is primarily funded by sales and use taxes, which together comprise 70% of the city’s revenue. Various other taxes and fees provide another 16%. Property taxes provide only 3% of City revenues.

4. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how to maintain our community’s character while growing with the rest of the metro area. How do you think we best do this? Do you believe that one takes precedence over the other?

The “talk” about maintaining the character of our community is not just talk – it’s written into our city charter and in our zoning regulations. Residents must be the ones who determine what is right for their neighborhoods. I will hold regular meetings in my district. Together, we can manage growth in areas designated for development in the Comprehensive Plan in a way that mirrors the character of our neighborhoods, enhances the beauty of the City and satisfies the financial needs of maintaining infrastructure.

5. What are your top two policy goals, why, and how will you work to address them?

We need to modify our City Code to ensure that residents have a direct voice in the issues which affect their neighborhoods.

We need to modify our budget process to provide for clear oversight and ensure that our resources are well-spent and that revenues continue to grow in a way that ensures financial stability for the future.

6. Do you have a personal or professional background in conflict resolution? Give an example of a time you’ve used these skills.

I have good and unique experience in conflict resolution. For example, in my experience of working on setting up the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, and later organizing and running the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, there were a number of situations where I had to manage not only “normal” conflicts but also conflicts that bridged two very different cultures and required careful consideration and management of the needs and desired outcomes of each.

7. How will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole?

The needs of my district are one with the needs of the city as a whole. My district may differ somewhat from other districts in terms of geography and demographics, but the end goal is to provide a great community for all of us.

8. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

I carry my camera everywhere I go and try to capture and preserve images I see. I’m an avid skier. I ride my bike along Clear Creek. I forage for mushrooms in the Front Range. I love to cook and share meals with my friends.

I am excited to be a candidate for this office and honored that so many of my neighbors have encouraged me to run.

I know that it is a great responsibility and will require a lot of effort, but I have come to know that our city has many residents who care about their community and are becoming more involved in how it will look in the future.

Korey Stites

1. Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?  Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of your district.

I have the most experience in working here in Wheat Ridge and in District 3. I was born and raised in District 3, both on Allison Court and West 35th Avenue. I attended Kullerstrand, Everett, and graduated from Wheat Ridge High School in 2001. Additionally, I have a degree in history with a minor in general business from Metro State University and a Masters degree in Leadership.

I grew up in a very public service oriented family. I was fortunate to grow up watching my Grandfather Hank Stites serve as Mayor, and later my Dad Mike represented District 3 on City Council. I learned a great deal by listening to their conversations and watching them go through the decision making process.

My wife Sara and I chose to open our business Personal Achievement Martial Arts  in Wheat Ridge just off of 40th and Youngfield. We have been there for close to 10 years. In 2018 we had the honor of being  named Wheat Ridge Business of the year.. We work closely with local elementary schools, and have helped to raise close to $10,000 dollars a year for those schools. We recently purchased the house I grew up in and are excited to have a kindergartner at Kullerstrand.

My experience and dedication to Wheat Ridge is not limited to business. I have also served on many boards and commissions including the Wheat Ridge Water District Board, The Jeffco Futures Committee, The Mayor’s Citizen Outreach Committee, The Wheat Ridge Business District Board, and most recently served as Co-Chair for The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Steering Committee. I understand the public process and have a track record of being able to make difficult decisions for the people I represent.

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge over the next four years, and how would you propose to address it?

The way the city will address growth and development is the  biggest issue currently and will continue to be. The continuous growth in Colorado as well as the overgrowth of Denver and the Highlands neighborhood presents both opportunities and challenges to Wheat Ridge. How council leads on these issues will define  Wheat Ridge moving forward.

As mentioned for the majority of the previous year I served as the Co-Chair for the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Steering  Committee, The NRS calls for a proactive approach to dealing with development. This model also brought many players to the table while engaging the citizens openly and with transparency.. It is work I am proud of and a process I will continue to bring when elected to city council.

From this work the city has begun the process of hiring two Neighborhood Engagement Specialists. Their purpose is  to  work with neighborhoods on defining what the character of their neighborhood is, and what are the needs  and wants of those neighborhoods. These specialist  will also have the opportunity to better educate our citizens about  some of the processes, terms, and other issues that come up. By taking this proactive approach, and  making sure that those public processes are followed, we will be able to shape the development that is  coming in, rather than be swallowed up by it.

3. How is the city funded?

Wheat Ridge is funded primarily through sales tax. It is important to make sure that we continue to attract both big national retail, and support local small business.  As a successful small business owner I have a unique perspective of meeting both needs. The city will accomplish this by  attracting households with disposable income and making sure we have opportunities to spend that money within the city limits.

4. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how to maintain our community’s character while growing with the rest of the metro area. How do you think we best do this? Do you believe that one takes precedence over the other?

The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy has already given us a roadmap for engaging neighborhoods in keeping the character of their neighborhoods. We need to take a proactive approach to defining the character of the neighborhoods, while they continue to grow.  This requires us to recognize, we may not  grow as fast or as big as surrounding cities. I believe as someone who has spent my entire life involved in this city, that our founders and current residents are happy with that. While we do need to have managed growth and there are places to develop and add density, it should not be more important than maintaining our community’s character.

5. What are your top two policy goals, why, and how will you work to address them?

My top priority is to implement the recently adopted Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy. Once hired the Neighborhood Engagement Specialists should start to engage  in neighborhoods to find out more about what our citizens want to see happen. We also need to continue to  invest in our corridors, and facilitate more investment in our city through an improved customer service  approach when working with the city.

Second, improving the communication and outreach for the citizens of District 3 and Wheat Ridge  as a whole. Having consistent and highly publicized district meetings, using multiple avenues of  communication including print, email, social media, and word of mouth to engage more citizens in our public  processes.

6. Do you have a personal or professional background in conflict resolution? Give an example of a time you’ve used these skills.

For the last few years I served as an administrator for the Wheat Ridge Neighbors (6,500 people),  Wheat Ridge Politics (439 people), Buy Sell Swap Wheat Ridge (4,900 people), and the Wheat Ridge Community (437 people) Facebook pages. Conflict resolution defines my work  with those pages.. I was  able to moderate discussions regarding some of Wheat Ridge’s most controversial issues of the last few  years. I have helped mediate  discussions and provide support to citizens when they are upset.

I am a 6th Degree Black Belt and I have spent most of my life training in the martial arts. My school Personal Achievement Martial Arts works closely with local schools helping kids deal with bullies in a non-violent way.

7. How will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole?

Wheat Ridge only has one at large vote and that is the Mayor who only votes in cases of a tie. Our City Council People must balance the needs of the district they represent and make the best decision for the entire city. They  are elected by and represent their district first and should be keeping their constituents informed and soliciting feedback on a consistent basis to make sure they can do that effectively.

8. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

I have spent my entire life  connected to Wheat Ridge in one way or another. While I was born and raised here,  I have lived in other cities throughout the Denver area, I even owned a business in Lafayette in my early  20’s. However, I was always connected to what was going on here in my hometown. When we could finally  afford  a house in Wheat Ridge, we were excited. When we had the chance to buy the house I grew up in  less than a mile from a fantastic elementary school and our business, we were ecstatic.

I am a person who seeks out others in the community to get multiple points of view on all issues. I seek to not only get input, but to understand those viewpoints to make sure that the final decision is one that reflects everyone’s views. That understanding along with my history and experience in Wheat Ridge helps me to bring people together and build bridges in our community.

I take a great deal of  pride in knowing the love and respect that many of the citizens had for both my Dad and Grandfather. As I  have been campaigning and knocking on doors, I have had people thank me for all that my family has done  for this city. That responsibility is not lost on me. Having said that, the reason I have earned the  endorsement of 7 of the 8 city council people, the city treasurer, and the county treasurer is not my last  name. I have put years of work into making sure that Wheat Ridge is a better place for everyone that lives  here. Once elected, I intend to continue to work for the citizens of District 3 and all of the citizens of Wheat  Ridge to make sure that we have a city that we can be proud to call home.

Council District IV

Christopher Bird

1. Why are you the best candidate to represent your district? Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of your district.

As an Eagle Scout, I learned the importance of being involved and community service. These values of involvement and service drive me to represent the residents of Wheat Ridge in a responsible and moral fashion. I believe in the accountability of elected officials to the citizens they represent. By holding quarterly outreach meetings with residents, I will inform the public on issues facing the city and listen to feedback in order to best represent constituents. I have heard politicians say that they will “listen to the people” for a very long time. Listening is important, but it is only the first step in the process. The second step is to truly hear the opinions of citizens. When we hear, we process and take their thoughts, ideas and concerns to heart. The final step in the process is action. By taking what we hear and putting into policy, we truly stand for the citizen we represent. If elected, I will listen, hear and act on the desires of the citizens of Wheat Ridge.

My career as an environmental scientist has taught me the importance of data in decision making. With regards to time constraints and economic feasibility, the city should gather appropriate data in order to make the important decisions that affect residents and the city’s day-to-day functions. I will require quality reports and presentations when it comes to making decisions that will impact residents. I will exercise critical thinking and ask tough questions before making a decision. I will employ these skills to be a voice for the people on City Council.

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge over the next four years, and how would you propose to address it?

With metro area growth, adding of residents and vehicle traffic, infrastructure is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge. With improved infrastructure the city will be able to diminish the effect of increased vehicular traffic through the use of continuous flow intersections, the widening of Wadsworth Boulevard and small improvements to other major corridors. Furthermore, by creating non-vehicular infrastructure (interconnected trails, bike lanes, and sidewalks) we can further reduce the impacts of growth and focus on a more sustainable future for our city. With the addition of the RTD light rail G-line, the community is primed to offer new transportation options to citizens and future residents in Wheat Ridge. Connecting non-vehicular infrastructure to the RTD light rail line will further advance green initiatives within our city. To address these new changes I plan to thoroughly review each new development and infrastructure plan and ask for data on impacts to traffic and surrounding neighborhoods in order to preserve the quality of life we all enjoy.

3. How is the city funded?

The city’s primary source of funding is sales taxes, which accounts for approximately 58% of total funding. Use taxes and “other taxes” account for an additional 20%. A strong and vibrant business community is vital for the future success of our city. If elected, I will work with city officials, staff and business owners to create a streamlined process to simplify doing business within the city. When this efficiency increases, Wheat Ridge will be able to attract new businesses and promote small local business growth giving residents more options and opportunities to shop within city limits. Keeping money within our community will help the continued growth of our business community and the city as a whole.

4. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how to maintain our community’s character while growing with the rest of the metro area. How do you think we best do this? Do you believe that one takes precedence over the other?

There is a delicate balance to preserving the character of Wheat Ridge and growing with the rest of the metro area. I have always said that our city is an oasis in the metro area highlighted with large lots, welcoming neighborhoods and non-cookie cutter developments. My goal is to preserve the unique established neighborhoods our community values, and focusing on the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS) recommendations when it comes to density housing. My involvement with the NRS was reliant upon a great amount of community input. The NRS, adopted by the City Council in July, 2019, outlines the citizen’s wishes to develop our corridors and keep density development out of established residential neighborhoods. I will honor resident’s views and focus density development to the corridors and in the vicinity of the RTD light rail G-line. I believe utilizing main corridors and around the G-line will reduce traffic impacts in neighborhoods and encourage residents to utilize non-vehicular forms of transportation. Lastly, I will work to expand the historic district on the west end of 44th Avenue. Wheat Ridge has a rich history, and an expansion of the historic district will preserve that history for future generations and further preserve our city’s quirky character.

5. What are your top two policy goals, why, and how will you work to address them?

My top policy goal is promote community safety and decrease property crime in Wheat Ridge. I will work with our new chief of police and the Wheat Ridge Police Department on innovative and creative strategies combined with increased community outreach to address the unique issues we face as a small city within a larger metro area. By utilizing a tiered property crime plan, and a voluntary security camera catalog, we as a community can help provide the police department with tools they need to keep us safe. A healthy society relies on safety, and that is best achieved through a strong relationship between citizens and the police that serve and protect our community.

Secondly, addressing metro area growth and keeping up with surrounding cities while maintaining the character of Wheat Ridge will be important in the coming years. One aspect that makes our city great is the single family housing that our city offers. Conversely, with our 9 square mile foot print, density is a necessity when it comes to residential growth. I will balance growth by carefully reviewing all proposed developments and utilize critical thinking when it comes to approving the plans.

6. Do you have a personal or professional background in conflict resolution? Give an example of a time you’ve used these skills.

As an Eagle Scout and environmental scientist I have had many opportunities to lead small and large teams for a common goal. Many times that common goal can become threatened by opposing viewpoints and lack of willingness to compromise. My strategy to conflict resolution has focused on finding something we all agree on, and building from there. As it applies to Wheat Ridge, I believe all residents want our city to be a strong and inviting place for our families. To build on that, business, housing, education and public safety are key to a healthy community. We can find ways to work together to find solutions to these challenges, and if elected, I will work to build the relationship between the community and the city government so that we can all have a voice when it comes to addressing these challenges.

7. How will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole?

District IV and Wheat Ridge as a whole will benefit from recommendations made in the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy. Community engagement in all districts will help the city create unique neighborhood plans when proceeding with revitalization plans. When it comes to developing corridors, the city will benefit from finishing the project on 38th. District IV will need to focus on the development of 44th Avenue and Kipling Street. By developing a quality plan for these major streets, we can create a model for successful revitalization throughout our community. Seeking resident input on this process will be vital to its success. Community engagement in the process will facilitate a stronger relationship of trust between the citizens and the city government.

8. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

As a candidate, I am not seeking donations or endorsements. I know this is key to having representatives that are responsible to the public at large, and not to big donors or entities that helped get them elected. In a city like Wheat Ridge, our community is tight knit and I believe in getting out and talking to my neighbors to hear what they have to say and what they want to see in our community. If elected I promise to listen, hear and put residents ideas for our city into action. I will be a reflection of the people and be their voice on City Council.

Larry Mathews

1. Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?  Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of your district.

I have four years of experience meeting the needs of my constituents.  I have years of management experience and used critical thinking to fulfil my duties as the vice-president of a large highway construction firm. I am a long time resident of 3 Wheat Ridge districts and have lived in District 4 for 36 years.

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge over the next four years, and how would you propose to address it?

The pressure to destroy the Wheat Ridge attributes that made us a preferred place to raise a family.  I would preserve the character of our existing neighborhoods and bring newer diversity to our developing neighborhoods where we can design the infrastructure to accommodate the new construction.

3. How is the city funded?

The principal funding for our city comes from sales tax (55%), use tax (14%), services (10%), other taxes (7%), and licenses (5%). There are other small categories that make up the rest.  We receive only 4% of our budget from property taxes.

4. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how to maintain our community’s character while growing with the rest of the metro area. How do you think we best do this? Do you believe that one takes precedence over the other?

We will never continue growing with the rest of the metro area.  We are land locked and our last large undeveloped parcels are currently under design or actual construction.  We need to continue to market our niche as a desirable home destination.

5. What are your top two policy goals, why, and how will you work to address them?

To improve our existing codes to maintain the integrity of existing neighborhoods and place additional emphasis on upgrading our infrastructure.

6. Do you have a personal or professional background in conflict resolution? Give an example of a time you’ve used these skills.

I spent the majority of my career in highway construction where I continually worked to resolve the conflicts that arise on all construction projects.

7. How will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole?

They are one and the same.  As with any other situation, you prioritize all the wants and needs against a benefits to cost ratio.  Sometimes your district wins and sometimes, for the benefit of all, the city need will come out on top.

8. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

My first priority is to listen to the citizens and bring their voices into the council chamber.

Val Nosler Beck

1. Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?  Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of your district.

My husband and I picked Wheat Ridge as the place to put down roots 5 years ago…almost to the day. We love the small town feel and honestly we love our neighbors. Our two young daughters attend the same school my mom attended. We spend our summers at Anderson Pool. We have almost fully restored our 1963 mid century home to its original glory, pink flamingo bathroom and all. We love so much about Wheat Ridge.

This is my second time running for city council District 4. In 2017 I ran because affordable housing, homelessness and  infrastructure issues were impacting our city and neighborhoods. Professionally I had helped other municipalities build back more resilient after the 2013 floods. I wanted to bring my skill set to my city.

I didn’t win that race in 2017, but I did not lose.

After running for council I served on the cultural commission and was appointed to the Urban Renewal Board. What I got out of that race most importantly was the friendship of the three people I ran against. City Councilwoman Leah Dozeman, D 4 resident Andy Rassmussen and Ruth Baranowski. There is a new kind of politics brewing in Wheat Ridge, it has very little to do with party affiliation, and much more to do with getting things done.

I learned in that loss that we can do so much more together. On council I will bring that lesson of leadership and inclusivity with me. As I knock on doors and talk to constituents about their needs they are sick of how divisive issues have become in our city. Residents no matter their income, or schedule, or access to facebook or lack there of should have a voice in the process. Residents are left to feel left out. Residents don’t want to hear the fighting. They want outcomes.

On council I will support the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy recommendations.

I will support authentic growth that helps businesses thrive in Wheat Ridge.

On council I will work to get residents a decision on ADU’s.

I want the housing authority to be reactivated.

2. What do you think is the most important issue facing Wheat Ridge over the next four years, and how would you propose to address it?

Wheat Ridge needs to find a way to listen to one another when it comes to growth. We are getting nowhere by yelling at developers or bullying residents. We must find a way to help residents have a more proactive role in what is happening in their neighborhoods and on the major corridors throughout the city. Public meetings currently are a lion’s den, where new comers are left to feel left out.

3. How is the city funded? 

Roughly 69% of the city budget is funded by sales and use tax revenue. This means our Wheat Ridge businesses and our residents fuel our budget through what they purchase. Of that, 55% is sales tax revenue which comes from businesses located within Wheat Ridge City Limits. The other 30% is funded by licensing and other fees and taxes, like property tax that the city receives a smaller portion of the revenue.

Bottom line, the city is funded by residents and businesses in Wheat Ridge.

4. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how to maintain our community’s character while growing with the rest of the metro area. How do you think we best do this? Do you believe that one takes precedence over the other?

I served on the Wheat Ridge Cultural Commission and currently serve on the Urban Renewal Board. City council should activate the boards and commissions to work together on projects. The Cultural Commission has some great ideas on how to incorporate art and history into new developments. Once on council I will support more projects that celebrate local artists, like the “Welcome to Wheat Ridge” mural that was curated by the Cultural Commission, Local Works and the Wheaties Academy.The Wheat Ridge Historical Society, the Sustainability Committee and Parks and Recreation have opportunity to green up our parks, produce healthy food and build community by putting orchards in and pollinator gardens.

We have engaged active volunteers on our boards and commissions! The time is now to have them all work together for a better future!

5. What are your top two policy goals, why, and how will you work to address them?

A key policy goal, once in office, will be to push for better communication earlier on between city government and residents.We need to effectively implement the neighborhood specialists role that was recommended by the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS). We are on the right track with the neighborhood specialists that will serve as a conduit between city and Wheat Ridge residents. We need a council that supports engagement from everyone, not just a select few. I also will hold monthly opportunities around my district to meet residents where they are, so we can move forward together. As a working mom of two young children, I sometimes can’t make the meeting, but can send an email. I will make multiple access points available to constituents from ages 8 to 80.

We must make housing in Wheat Ridge a priority. I will work with my colleagues on city council to support the already established Wheat Ridge Housing Authority. Wheat Ridge does not have the resources to fully fund resources for residents experiencing homelessness. I want to work with regional partners, the state, the county and neighboring municipalities to approach this issue. The city churches are on the right track they have programs helping the underserved in our community and I want to help them work with other resources. I think we can do more when we all work together!

6. Do you have a personal or professional background in conflict resolution? Give an example of a time you’ve used these skills.

In 2013 and 2014, and then again in 2017 I worked for the Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office. This office was stood up by Governor Hickenlooper after the devastating floods and fires ravaged nearly 30 counties throughout the state. I helped solidify the office in the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

In this job I worked with local government and residents to get the resources to the towns and residents that needed help. This was incredibly rewarding work, but very challenging. My role was communications and community engagement. The recovery from the floods and fires is a marathon and not a sprint. The challenge was keeping funds coming in to these communities after the water receded. I helped tell the stories of the families impacted  and I helped residents that could not access their home because of damage done by the flooding and fires.

Navigating the federal and state government is difficult, and it was made more challenging for residents because many of the policies to qualify for assistance were set up for flooding in Colorado towns.

I met on a daily basis with residents and  government officials to change policies to get Coloradans back in their homes. I helped residents and government find common ground when neither side thought they could move forward. It was incredible work and now that we are six years out from the floods I can look back knowing that I helped communities figure out how to match funds so they could rebuild back better than before and more resilient.

7. How will you balance the needs of your district with the needs of the city as a whole?

We have needs in District 4 that I will work hard to address, like homelessness, attainable housing and  improved communication between the council/city and residents. These issues need to be addressed by meeting residents where they are; neighborhood by neighborhood, district by district and at the city level.

District 4 has so much opportunity. Our neighborhoods are diverse in zoning to socioeconomic make-up. We have so much potential to improve our economic corridors along 44th but also throughout the entire city. I support the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy recommendation that council approved to have neighborhood specialist work as a conduit between residents, neighborhoods and the city to help foster productive conversation early in any kind of development process. Whether that be residential or retail or commercial.

The city council must make a decision about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). There are residents in district 4 that have told me this is their number one issue. They are current residents that have not been able to get an answer or guidance on ADU’s. This is impacting the resale value of their home. In another instance, a neighbor wants to build an ADU for her son that will never be able to live on his own. She needs to know if she can stay in Wheat Ridge or if she needs to move to a community that can accommodate her family’s needs.

8. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

Sam and I picked Wheat Ridge because we found a home we knew we could live in our entire lives and raise our family. We love mid century design. Our home was featured in the 2015 Mid Century Home Tour.  We spend our summers at Anderson Park and Pool and we spend our winter weekends in the mountains skiing because we are an hour away when you live in Wheat Ridge. We have deer roaming through our backyard but are 9 mile drive to downtown. Most birthday dinners are spent at C+, because my kids LOVE their mac and cheese.

I am a mom to two amazing girls. They attend Saints Peter and Paul, the same school my mom and her five brothers attended. My dad is from Wheat Ridge too, in fact his great grandparents settled near 44th and Wadsworth. They established a truck farming business, and Apel-Bacher Park at 45th and Vance is named for my family. I have deep roots in this community and a passion to keep what we love about Wheat Ridge and move forward to allow for more families of all kinds to move into our community. Wheat Ridge has been the foundation for my family to thrive. I want the same opportunity for all Wheat Ridge residents.

City Clerk

James “Steve” Kirkpatrick

1. Why are you the best candidate for this position?  Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of the city.

First, because I am, and will remain, impartial and transparent.  Both Colorado law and the Wheat Ridge Charter empower us, the people, to bring issues before our City Council, or to a vote of the people through our ballot.  As the Election Commissioner, the City Clerk is the umpire for City elections, and ensures free and fair elections.  As City Clerk, I will follow the law faithfully, without fear or favor.

My wife and I moved to Wheat Ridge 28 years ago.  We treasure the benefits we enjoy living here, and we strive to keep our City’s unique attributes intact as inevitable changes occur.

For the past 46 years I have worked in businesses as an expert in learning and talent development, then a manager, and eventually as an executive managing an organization of 400 people.  That experience includes working as a banker in New York, a stint with AT&T and four years as the dean of a graduate school.  So, I am an experienced manager and leader.

By age 28, I had earned four university degrees, including two masters’ and a Ph.D. in behavioral sciences.  My education prepares me for the role of City Clerk for several reasons, the most important of which is that I have learned how to learn.   And there will be a lot of learning to do, which I believe I can do quickly and effectively.

Finally, the most important thing the Office of the City Clerk has is its reputation.  The Office must fairly and impartially conduct its affairs, both according to the law and in service to the people of Wheat Ridge.  As City Clerk, I will in every way possible maintain and enhance the reputation of the Office of Wheat Ridge City Clerk.

2. How will you ensure that you act without bias in this position?

In order to remain impartial, one must understand the partial.  In other words, the City Clerk must continuously listen to the voters, follow the media, review social media sites, talk with other elected officials and staff…, use every means to appreciate where our people stand on issues and proposals.

Using that knowledge, the Clerk steadfastly avoids even the appearance of supporting or opposing a given position or faction, because any issue that attracts the public interest enough to inspire the public enough to act, may – and sometimes does – appear on the next ballot.  And the City Clerk is the election Commissioner.

Think of an umpire for a baseball or softball game.  The umpire knows and applies the rules of the game consistently.  While he or she might explain a rule, or a call, to either team, the umpire never gives the teams advice on how to set the batting order or when to change pitchers.  The umpire does not favor either team, or even interpret the rules to help one team vs. another.  The City Clerk must conduct the people’s business like that umpire.

3. As City Clerk, communicating with city residents is important. What tools (digital and analog) will you use to communicate? Will preference be given to any tools in particular?

All communications channels are useful some of the time and not all of them every time.

This question turns on judgment, decisions made to ensure that the right people have the information they need at the right time.

With the help of the City’s Public Information Office, I believe the City Clerk should evaluate how to disseminate information based on these elements of the situation:

  • Audience – who are they, how widespread are they across the city, and which media are most effective in reaching that audience.
  • Urgency and Importance of the information, the message to the citizens.
  • Kind of information/message in terms of how complex it is, and what the City needs voters to do in response to the communication (if anything).
  • Consequences to the public and the City government if the message does not reach the right people for the right reason at the right time.

So, for example, if voters sign a petition to put a question on the ballot, the significance of that message to all voters requires the City to use every reasonable effort to reach every voter.  Therefore, the City Clerk should disseminate that information via The City website, social media, press release(s) (issued by the Public Information Office), and word of mouth through City Commissions, announcements at City Council, neighborhood groups and activists.

By contrast, suppose there is a change in the Freedom of Information laws, the statutes and City Code that give the public the right to request public information from the City’s archives through the Office of the City Clerk.  In that case, the first channel of communication is updating the City Clerk Office’s website and printed and electronic information request forms so that anyone who submits a request for information has the most current information in the easiest place to find it.

4. This position serves the mayor, the city council, the city manager, and all administrative departments. Do you have a strategy working effectively with all of these offices and departments?

Yes.  The strategies are easy to describe and difficult yet essential to do.

First, as City Clerk I will build and maintain relationships, with all of the individuals listed in the question among others (including the city attorney, the City’s public information office, and the county clerk and recorder).  Doing that means investing the time and energy to establish trust and create partnerships with each of those people.

The most effective way to invest that time is in face to face conversations, not only in meetings but also – and more importantly – in regular, substantive one-to-one conversations.

Second, among the most important decisions any leader makes, especially a public official, is what to do with information that comes to the leader’s attention.  Who needs that information, how urgently do they need it, and what is the best means to convey it?

By building and maintaining those many relationships as City Clerk I will know better how and when to send information, provide service, and to whom.  Equally important, I can expect others to provide me the information I may need and the service the City Clerk Office requires to fulfill its mission.

5. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

My grandmothers taught me many important life lessons, including the principle that honesty and character matter.  One of my grandmothers said many, many times, “Your reputation precedes you wherever you go.”  She was right, of course.

So, I strive always to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, even if no one else is watching.

People tell me that they enjoy working with me, including those who have reported to me as a manager.  Sometimes people that worked with me years ago get in contact to seek my advice, which is a humbling compliment.  Perhaps in part that is because I strive to practice the Platinum Rule: “Treat others as they want to be treated,” another lesson from my grandmothers.

The business, management and leadership experience I have accrued over the last four decades plus, I believe makes me well qualified to manage the City Clerk’s office and serve as a leader acting in the interests of the people of Wheat Ridge.  As City Clerk, I will draw upon that business experience and skill to set high expectations and meet them consistently.

Finally, I will earn the designation and credentials of a Certified Municipal Clerk.  All previous Wheat Ridge City Clerks over the past many years have completed that certification process, and all of the Wheat Ridge City Clerks with whom I have spoken say it is essential that I do the same. And so, I will.

Serving as a City Clerk is a complex job, requiring knowledge of statutes, city ordinances, processes, procedures and ethics among government officials and staff.  There is a lot to learn, and I believe my education (four university degrees, including a Ph.D.) and business experience give me the tools to do that for the people of Wheat Ridge.

I humbly ask for your support when our ballots arrive in the mail in Mid-October, or on election day, November 5th.

City Treasurer

Christopher Miller

1. Why are you the best person for this position?  Please relate your answer to your background, qualifications, values and the needs of the city.

I’ve have worked for the City and County of Denver for over 13 years where I have held various financial positions.  I’ve worked as a Senior Financial Analyst at the Treasury Division, an Accounting Supervisor at the City Controller’s Office, a Project Controls Supervisor for the Department of Public Works and I currently serve as the Controller for Denver Arts and Venues. I’ve been able to leverage this experience working in local government and specifically my experiance with governmental treasury operations to apply best practices to my duties as Wheat Ridge Treasurer.

2. Is there anything that surprised you about this role?

It has been a pleasure to work with the city staff at the Wheat Ridge City Hall. I’ve worked in local government for a long time and understand the tremendous effort it takes to keep a city running. I am consistently impressed with the quality, quantity and efficiency of the work that is accomplished by such a small number of dedicated employees.

3. What’s next? What else are you hoping to accomplish as City Treasurer?

I hope to accomplish more financial reporting options and improve fiscal transparency, update the city’s Investment Policy and provide useful metrics of government activity to the citizens of Wheat Ridge.

4. What else would you like the residents of Wheat Ridge to know about you?

I am originally from Las Vegas, NV and moved to Colorado as a teenager. I grew up in Commerce City but attended Belleview Christian High School in Westminster. My partner and I have lived in Wheat Ridge for over 13 years and I love to give back to this community by volunteering my time.